No one is 100% in the world of sales. Very often, the company hero is the person who is winning 30% of the time! So, the big question is not whether you will fail. You will. The question is what you will learn from failure.
We have all been in situations where we are on a sales call, and we get the sense that the other person has checked out of the discussion for some reason. Maybe there is an uncomfortably long silence on the phone. Maybe we can see the other person looking disengaged, making faces, getting distracted, or checking their phone.
Have you ever had a selling opportunity that seemed to be headed toward a win -- and then lost the deal when you found out that you and the buyer had different ideas of what was really under discussion?
One of David Sandler’s famous selling rules reads as follows: “Never ask for the order -- make the prospect give up."
At first, that instruction might sound confrontational . . . and perhaps even impossible. If you don’t ask for the order, how are you supposed to make the prospect give up? About what? And anyway, isn’t the first rule of selling supposedly “ABC -- Always Be Closing?"
One of David Sandler's classic selling rules sounds like a bit of a riddle when you first hear it: Don’t buy back tomorrow the product or service you sold today. Why would you ever do that? Who would want to? And under what circumstances would it possibly happen?
You may have heard of the popular Sandler selling rule known as “reversing” and wondered what it was all about. No, it has nothing to do with backing your car up. Reversing simply means you answer every question from a prospective buyer with a question of your own.
Most of David Sandler’s famous rules for selling are fairly easy to get your head around, once you understand the basic idea they are built on. But there is one Sandler Selling Rule that makes a lot of salespeople uncomfortable. It may be the hardest selling rule of all for sales professionals to accept and implement . . . for the simple reason that it is designed to shake us up a little. It reads as follows: There are no bad prospects, only bad salespeople.
Jack, a new sales hire, was having lots of problems in initial meetings with his prospective buyers. Vera, his manager, sat in on a sales call with him to determine why Jack was closing so few of his prospects in what was supposed to be a one-call close, and why he was discounting so heavily whenever he did close a deal. The answer, she saw, lay in the way Jack conducted his sales interviews.
Carlos was in a great mood. Forty minutes in, the meeting with his top prospect’s senior staff was going great. He was getting nothing but engagement, smiles, and positive body language from everyone around the table, including the CEO of the company. He knew what that meant. He was about to close his first big deal! The timing couldn’t have been better. Because this was a potentially major account, Carlos' manager Charlene was in attendance. Today, she would get to see him work his magic first hand.
Once upon a time, there was a young kid who graduated from high school, took a look at the help wanted ads, went out on a couple of interviews, and, within just a few days, landed his very first job. He was hired as a salesperson by one of those big box stores.
One of Sandler’s critical selling rules – “Don’t spill your candy in the lobby” – can sound a little confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the Sandler Selling System® methodology. What does a spilled box of candy have to do with a sales call? Everything.
Tom’s best customer, Meg, called and asked for a favor: “Can you talk to my new assistant Karen about getting up to speed with your software? She’s got a couple of questions that I don’t have time to answer.”
Vincent’s closing numbers were not what he had been hoping for. He asked his manager, Lynnette, what she thought the problem might be. After a little role-playing, Lynnette suggested that Vincent was spending too much time selling “from inside a box.”
Stan was frustrated. He kept getting “shot down on price” during discussions with prospective buyers. He knew he was supposed to talk directly about money issues before making a presentation . . . but somehow he never seemed to iron out the details in a way that gave him a clear sense of whether the buyer felt his pricing was acceptable.
Marina was having some problems with the opening phases of her sales process. Her early discussions with prospects were rarely productive. She sat down with Fred, her manager, and did some role-playing in the hope of improving her interviewing technique. During the role-play session, Fred shared a strategy Marina hadn't heard of. He called it “stripping line.”
Diane, a recent sales hire, got an email from her manager, Luis, suggesting that he accompany her on an initial sales call with a prospect – and then debrief with her on what he’d observed. Diane replied that she thought that was a great idea.
Eliza, a new sales hire, had posted an abysmally low closing ratio in her first 60 days on the job. She was spending most of her time with prospects who ended up picking her brain for advice and information . . . and then disappearing. Frank, her manager, asked her during a coaching session why she thought that was happening.
Ryan, a salesperson in his mid-fifties, had hit a performance plateau. His commissions had been flat for the past six months, and he had narrowly missed quota in each of those months. He scheduled a meeting with his manager, Jeannine, to see if, working together, they could identify any steps that would turn this pattern around.
During one of their coaching sessions, Jason asked his manager Ellen if she could think of one area he could work on over the next 30 days that would result in a dramatic and rapid improvement of his closing numbers. He was surprised at how quickly she answered.
Brian, an inside sales rep, spent too much of his time chasing deals that ended up going nowhere. He knew it; his sales manager Francine knew it. Late one Friday afternoon, Francine asked him to give some thought to the matter, and to come up with some ideas about why this was a problem for him.
Gwen’s closing rate wasn’t looking good; she had missed quota for three consecutive quarters. She asked her manager Eileen for a little help in figuring out what she could do to improve. Among the questions Eileen asked during their one-on-one meeting was this one: “Can I take a look at your proposals?”
Mike’s list of “active” prospects was always long and detailed, and he was sure everyone knew this during his team’s sales meetings. But when his manager Jacqueline did a little digging, she was surprised to learn how few of Mike’s “active” prospects matched up with the ideal sales cycle. Some were taking two or three times as long to reach a decision as the prospects of other salespeople on the team.
Bert’s major frustration was dealing with prospects who couldn’t seem to make a decision.
During a weekly coaching session, he told his manager, Elaine, that one of his biggest difficulties was dealing with prospects who indicated the desire to make a decision, and who pledged to do so by a certain date. When the date rolls around, though, they invariably needed more time.“They’re driving me crazy,” Bert said.
When you first meet with a new prospect, how do you position your product or service? How do you characterize its various features, functions, and advantages? Which elements do you emphasize as having the strongest potential appeal to the prospect?
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve finally obtained the appointment. You’re looking forward to meeting with the prospect and asking the questions you carefully prepared in order to qualify the opportunity.
Jane was having problems uncovering accurate information during her discussions with prospects. Her conversations during sales calls tended to be unfocused, and she spent a lot of time pursuing options that her prospects ended up rejecting. Her manager suggested she try something called Negative Reversing.
Eileen, a brand-new sales hire, found herself struggling during her first week on the job. At her initial coaching session with Juan, her supervisor, she asked for some guidance on identifying promising lead sources. Instead of making suggestions about that, though, Juan decided to begin the process by asking a few basic questions.
Myra, a sales manager, scheduled a meeting with George, a salesperson who reported to her, to discuss his closing ratios. She was concerned about the high number of presentations George was making that were resulting in a “let’s think it over” response.